cover image Hansel and Gretel

Hansel and Gretel

Will Moses, . . Philomel, $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-399-24234-2

Folk artist Moses (Will Moses' Mother Goose ) refrains from adding new elements to or trying to set his own stamp on the text, adhering faithfully to the Grimm Brothers' story. His unique contribution instead comes through in innumerable subtle visual inventions in his oil paintings. Alternating spot illustrations that dot pages of text with wordless full-bleed spreads, he paints forest landscapes thick with spruces and winding streams, a night lit with a moon as warm and orange as a pumpkin, and a witch's house whose architectural details and cozy fittings make its candy decorations seem almost superfluous. Softening the horrors of their prospective roles as the main ingredient of the witch's upcoming feast, Moses shows Hansel and Gretel tucked into beds with fluffy pillows and warm comforters, and while the artist delights in the witch's mole-dotted, shovel-faced appearance, potted plants and a roaring fire warm her breakfast table, and her hat and broom hang neatly by the door. Dropped capital letters interlaced with botanical motifs add to the charm of the book's design; more motifs grace the margins of the text pages. Like the story's final verse ("Sleep well tonight, and don't let this old story give you a fright. Your parents love you dear, and will never let harm come near!"), the whole edition beams optimism and the rewards of resourcefulness. Ages 4-up. (Jan.)